Here I am, back in Brussels, an outer-Finn (Finnish expat) once more.
This time around I’ve met loads of other Finns around town so we have a tiny Finnish bubble in Brussels – you’d be surprised how many Finns there actually are.
The contrast with Finns and other people is thus even more pronounced; it’s easy to compare right on the spot. And one thing that has caught my eye is the precision which Finns practice in almost everything.
For example, I arranged to meet a friend after work and we made the arrangement by email. She suggested we meet at 18:35 and even specified the entrance in the building by which we should meet. She was then there at exactly 18:35 but apologised for being late since I was already there.
I on the other hand have adopted some bad habits – if I’ve been asked to a party or to a bar, I’ll turn up within 30min of the agreed time and don’t think of it as being too late. Most Finns will apologise in advance if they foresee a situation where they’ll be late even for 5 minutes.
Another form of precision is with money. Finns will pay exactly what they owed and make sure to pay it as soon as possible. Recently we went out with 5 Finnish girls and one Belgian guy – when the bill came the guy was ready to foot the bill but, alas, we had already calculated the exact amount each one of us owed and just gave it to the waiter. He was shocked by our habit of fumbling around with money and change and trying to figure out the best way of making sure we have exact change.
The night ended with me taking a taxi with my flatmates – two Finns – and it came up to about 13 euros. Flatmate 1 paid and then we quickly calculated that we owe her 4.33 euros which Flatmate 2 paid immediately. I now have 4.30e on my desk ready to be handed out and I feel bad for not having the 3 cents… Guess I’m not a true Finn.